Thursday 17 October 2019

Project puts faces to the anonymous 12 who travel for abortion every day

Katie O’Neill, Ruth and Julie Morrissey, Laura Lovejoy and Paula Cullen of X-ILE and, inset, the nine women
Katie O’Neill, Ruth and Julie Morrissey, Laura Lovejoy and Paula Cullen of X-ILE and, inset, the nine women

Women who have travelled to the UK for abortion have agreed to have their photographs published in a bid to challenge the stigma associated with the issue.

The X-ILE project has heard from women based in the greater Dublin area who have agreed to go public.

Although there are nine women photographed, not all have agreed to be identified by name or to give their reasons for travelling, according to one of the founding members of X-ILE.

"The aim of the project is not to go into the stories, just to show the images, the faces of the women who have had to travel for various reasons," Laura Lovejoy told the Herald.


"What these women have done by allowing their photograph to be taken and published is very brave and groundbreaking.

"We are aiming to put faces to the women - the real women - who have had an abortion."

Ms Lovejoy (25) from Rathmines and her co-founders Julie Morrissy, Ruth Morrissy, Paula Callan and Katie O'Neill joined a group of individuals outside Trinity College yesterday and stood in a figure of eight in silence for 12 minutes.

They chose yesterday as World Human Rights Day to highlight the campaign to repeal the eighth amendment.

"The number 12 is significant because the Irish Family Planning Association estimates that on average 12 women a day access abortion services overseas every day," Ms Lovejoy explained.

"We chose the name X-ILE as these women have been forced into exile and there is also a reference to the 'X Case', a landmark case in the history of abortion in Ireland."

A number of high-profile women including comedienne Tara Flynn, journalist Roisin Ingle and Helen Linehan - the wife of TV writer Graham Linehan - have all agreed to be involved. Some of them have already spoken about their experience, but others prefer to leave their images speak for themselves.

"They include everyone from students to professors to people with families," Ms Lovejoy said.

"We want to create a climate where there is more openness to talking about abortion."

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